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GIFT OF 




8081 IZ W1H 
A N 



THE BATTLE OF SANPASQUAL 



A Report of the California Historical Survey 

Commission with Special Reference 

to its Location 



By OWEN C.,COY, Ph.D. 

DIRECTOR 




CALIFORNIA STATE PRINTING OFFICE 

SACRAMENTO 

1921 



THE BATTLE OF SAN PASQUAL 



A Report of the California Historical Survey 

Commission with Special Reference 

to its Location 



By OWEN C. COY, Ph.D. 

DIRECTOR 




0872 



CALIFORNIA STATE PRINTING OFFICE 
SACRAMENTO 

1921 



THE BATTLE OE SAN PASQIAL. 

GIFT TO THE STATE. 

In accordance with the provisions of an act of the Legislature approved 
by the governor May 16, 1919, the State of California accepted 
as a gift from Messrs. William G. Henshaw and Ed Fletcher one acre 
of land said to be the site of the battle of San Pasqual, fought between 
the forces of General S. W. Kearny and the native Californians 
(Mexican) December 6 and 7, 1846. The act also provided that the 
Historical Commission should prepare a narrative of the events con 
nected with the battle; that it should determine the exact location of 
the several engagements; and recommend some manner whereby the 
state might suitably mark the site. In accordance with the act men 
tioned, this report is respectfully submitted. 

HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLE. 

The battle of San Pasqual, fought in the little valley of that name 
located in the northern part of San Diego County, was one of the 
bloodiest fought on Californian soil. The number of men engaged 
was not large nor were the casualties numerous as compared with 
battles of more recent wars. Its chief distinction lies in the fact that 
it was a battle fought upon California soil, which fortunately has 
been particularly free from bloody encounters. 

The main events of the war with Mexico during the years 1846-1848 
ire well known to the readers of American history. Upon July 7, 1846, 
Commodore John D. Sloat raised the American Flag at Monterey and 
during the succeding months the supremacy of the forces of the United 
States was recognized throughout the territory of Alta California, 
except by isolated bands of native Californian forces. One of these 
was the band of Andres Pico just north of San Diego. 

The United States Government, knowing of the impending war with 
Mexico, had prepared for an attack upon California both by its naval 
forces and by the army. Under instructions Commodore Sloat, as 
before stated, took possession of the chief port and settlements during the 
summer of 1846. To cooperate with the naval forces Colonel Stephen 
W. Kearny was ordered to proceed overland, and after having taken 
possession of New Mexico was to push on and hold California for the 
United States. A letter of instructions from Secretary of War William 
L. Marcy to Kearny is of value in giving an idea of his instructions and 
the plan of action of which this battle was a part. 

This letter, dated Washington, June 3, 1846, informed Kearny that 
the President had decided, in view of the impending war with Mexico, 
that the possession of Alta California was of prime importance; and 
that an expedition with that object in view was therefore ordered and 

29872 

A A A * *e? 



tnat he was designated to command it. He was also informed that 
an additional force of a thousand men had been provided to follow him 
to Santa Fe, to which place he was directed to proceed; and he was 
instructed, after making himself master of New Mexico, to press on with 
his remaining force to California. He was to enlist such volunteers 
as he might pick up along the way, the total enlistment not to exceed 
one-third of his original force. He was permitted to choose his own 
route, but it was suggested that the so-called "Caravan Route," by 
which the old communication between that country and New Mexico 
had been carried on, could be more easily traversed in winter time, 
and the wish was expressed that he should reach California by winter. 
It was expected that the United States naval forces would be in posses 
sion of the Pacific seacoast by the time Kearny would arrive there, 
and that they would cooperate with him in the conquest of the country. 
However. Kearny was not definitely bound to a fixed program, for 
Secretary Marcy s letter expressly stated that "A large discretionary 
power is invested in you in regard to these matters, as well as to all 
others." The letter of instructions ended with advice as to the govern 
ment to be set up in the event of the conquest of California, and 
instructions for the kind treatment of the Calif ornians. 

Following the instructions, Colonel Kearny left Leavenworth about 
tue end of June, occupied Santa Fe, and accomplished the conquest 
of New Mexico, as directed, in August. Having succeeded thus far, 
General Kearny, his commission as such having reached him at Santa 
Fe, made preparations for carrying out the remainder of his instruc 
tions, namely, those which dealt with the conquest of California. 

He left Santa Fe on the twenty-fifth of September, 1846, having 
before him a journey of over a thousand miles, a great portion of which 
was absolute desert, A very interesting account of this journey is 
given by Lieutenant Colonel W. H. Emory, one of Kearny s aides, in 
his journal. Both he and Captain Johnston, another aide to Kearny, 
kept diaries of their experiences on the overland trip to California. 
However, the details of the trip, although very interesting, are not 
essential to our story. The main facts of the trip may be obtained 
from the following letter, the official report of General Kearny to his 
superior officer, General R. Jones, sent after Kearny s arrival at San 
Diego : 

HEADQUARTERS. ARMY OF THE WEST, 
SAN DIEGO, UPPER CALIFORNIA, Dec. 12, 1846. 

SIR: As I have previously reported to you, I left Santa Fe [New Mexico] for 
this country on the 25th of September, with 300 of the First Dragoons under 
Major Sunnier. We crossed to the bank of the Del Norte at Albuquerque, ((>."> miles 
below Santa Fe,) continuing down on that bank till the 6th October, when we met 
Mr. Kit Carson, with a party of 16 men, on his way to Washington city with a mail 
and papers, an express from Com. Stockton, and Lieut. Col. Fremont, reporting that 
the Californias were already in possession of the Americans under their command ; 



that the American flag was flying from every important position in the territory, 
and that the country was forever free from Mexican control ; the war ended, and 
peace and harmony established among the people. In consequence of this informa 
tion, I directed that 200 dragoons under Major Sumner, should remain in New 
Mexico, and that the other 100, with two mountain howitzers, under Capt. Moore, 
should accompany me as a guard to Upper California. With this guard, we con 
tinued our march to the south, on the right bank of the Del Norte, to the distance 
of about 230 miles below Santa Fe, when, leaving that river on the loth Octo 
ber, in about the 33d deg. of latitude, we marched westward for the Copper 
mines, which we reached on the 18th, and on the 20th reached the river Gila, 
proceeding down the Gila, crossing ana recrossing it as often as obstructions in 
our front rendered it necessary ; on the llth November reached the Pimos vil 
lage, about SO miles from the .settlements in Sonora. * * * We crossed the Colo 
rado about 10 miles below the mouth of the Gila, and, marching near it about 30 
miles farther, turned off and crossed the desert a distance of about GO miles without 
water or grass. On the 2d December, we reached Warner s Rancho, (Agua 
Caliente,) the frontier settlement in California, on the route leading to Sonora. On 
the 4th we marched to Mr. Stokes s raucho (San[ta] Isabella,) ; and on the 5th 
were met by a small party of volunteers, under Capt. Gillespie, sent out from San 
Diego, by Com. Stockton, to give us what information they possessed of the enemy, 
000 or 700 of whom are now said to be in arms, and in the field throughout the terri 
tory, determined upon opposing the Americans, and resisting their authority in the 
Country. Encamped that night near another rancho (San[ta] Maria) of Mr. Stokes, 
about 40 miles from San Diego. * * * 
Very respectfully, your obdt. svt., 

S. W. KEARNY, Brig. Gen., U. S. A. 
BRIG. GEN. R. JONES, Adjt.-Gen. U. S. A. 

General Kearny s letter, curiously enough, makes no mention of the 
proximity of the hostile Californians, although he tells of the camp at 
the rancho Santa Maria. Referring to Lieutenant Emory s journal, we 
find that, under the date of December 5, he says : 

"We arrived at the rancheria after dark, where we heard that the enemy was in 
force 9 miles distant, and, not finding any grass about the rancheria, we pushed on 
and encamped in a canyon, two miles below. * * * A party under Lt. Hammond 
was sent to reconnoitre the enemy, reported to be near at hand. By some accident 
the party was discovered and the enemy placed on the qui vive. We were now on 
the main road to San Diego ; all the by-ways being in our rear, and it was therefore 
deemed necessary to attack the enemy, and" force a passage. About 2 o clock a. m. 
the call to horse was sounded." 

Captain Johnston, who was killed in action at San Pasqual, in his 
last entry, December 4, tells of hearing rumors of the enemy, but does 
not mention at what time the Americans broke camp. 

Before proceeding with the account of the battle which took place 
next day, it is necessary that we know something of the Californians 
on the opposing side. 

About the time that Kearny was crossing the Colorado, General 
Flores, comandante of the Californians, sent Captain Andres Pico south 
to cut off the return of a party of Americans understood to have left 
San Diego for the region of Santa Isabel. Pico failed to connect with 
the Americans, but, nevertheless, remained in the south, making his 
headquarters at San Luis Key and Santa Margarita. Located thus he 
cooperated with Captain Cota, who headed another band of Califor 
nians, in keeping supplies fro^ the Americans. Nothing definite is 



6 

known of Pico s movements up to December 5, when we find him 
encamped at the Indian village of San Pasqual. His purpose, it seems, 
was to cut off the return of Gillespie, whose departure from San Diego 
was known. We already know from Kearny s letter, that Gillespie had 
succeeded in connecting with Kearny s force on the fourth of December. 
However, Pico was ignorant of this fact, as he knew nothing of General 
Kearny s presence in California. 

Although there is conflicting testimony upon this point, it is reason 
able to assume it true, for if Pico had been aware of Kearny s presence 
he would hardly have acted as he did. Osio, a California writer, claims 
that Pico had no idea of Kearny s proximity, when he camped for the 
night at San Pasqual. According to Osio, Pico s first intimation of the 
presence of Kearny was given by an Indian, who rushed into Pico s 
camp that night and told him that an American captain with more than 
two hundred men was encamped a short distance away, and had been 
joined by another American captain from San Diego. 

According to Osio s account, the Indian, wishing to save Pico from 
surprise, told him of Kearny s intention to fall upon him unawares in 
the morning. Upon hearing this, Pico gave the order to mount and 
prepare to fight against four times their number. 

On the other hand Palomares, a lieutenant in a company of Califor 
nia riflemen,, claims that Pico left Los Angeles with a force of thirty 
men, expressly to follow Kearny, whose presence in California was 
known. According to Palomares account, Pico arrived at San Pasqual 
in a rain, at about 8 p.m. Not wishing to fall in a trap, he sent two of 
his men, Pablo Vejar and Ysidro Alvarado, to spy upon Kearny. Palo 
mares gives a vivid account of how Pico and his men waited all night 
in a drizzling rain for the return of these two spies who, as was after 
wards learned, had been taken prisoner by a patrol of Americans. Palo 
mares mentions the same incident of the Indian informant, as was men 
tioned by Osio, saying that at one, o clock in the morning an Indian 
approached camp, telling of an impending American attack. He was 
questioned by Pico, who refused to believe his story. The Indian left, 
only to return half an hour later with news of the approach of the 
Americans. This time his story was believed and Pico ordered his men 
to mount and prepare for attack. 

Both Osio and Palomares agree fairly well concerning the warning 
received by Pico and his preparations. However, Palomares statement 
that Pico left Los Angeles with thirty men to attack Kearny is not rea 
sonable, for the Californians were not accustomed to making attack 
upon parties four times their number. Osio is undoubtedly right in his 
contention that Pico was unaware of Kearny s approach, and in this 
statement he is borne out by Botello, another contemporary, who claims 
that Pico afterwards told him that he had not wished to fight, but was 



forced to it by circumstances which made it impossible to do otherwise. 
If Pico had not wished to fight, as he claims, he could hardly have been 
following Kearny with the intention of attacking him. 

Referring to Emory s journal we find that the Americans broke camp 
in the early morning of December 6, reaching the vicinity of San Pas- 
qual about daybreak. The order of march was as follows: Captain 
Johnston commanded an advance guard of twelve dragoons mounted on 
the best horses; close behind was General Kearny with Lieutenants 
Emory and Warner of the engineers, and four or five of their men; 
next came Captain Moore and Lieutenant Hammond with about fifty 
dragoons, many of them mounted upon mules, followed by Captains 
Gillespie and Gibson with twenty volunteers of the California Battal 
ion. Lieutenant Davidson was next in line, in charge of the two how 
itzers, with a few dragoons to manage the guns, which were drawn by 
mules; and finally the rest of the force, between fifty and sixty men, 
brought up the rear under Major Swords, protecting the baggage. 

Reaching the top of a slight rise, the Americans saw the village of 
San Pasqual spread before them. The Californians were drawn up to 
receive a charge. Ordering a charge, Captain Johnston proceeded 
down the slope at a gallop, followed by his men. He and his twelve 
dragoons being the best mounted, rapidly drew ahead of the main body 
of the Americans, and by the time they had reached the waiting Cali 
fornians, they were alone. The Californians, taking advantage of this 
fact, stood fast, discharging a volley, then receiving the Americans with 
lances set. Captain Johnston fell dead at the first volley, with a bullet 
through his head, and several others were wounded. A furious hand- 
to-hand conflict took place, which was terminated by the arrival of the 
main body of the Americans, at which Pico s men fled, hotly pursued 
by the Americans. 

However, the extreme variety of mounts soon became evident in the 
relative positions of the various pursuers, the American line being 
strung out for more than a mile. What Pico s plans up to this stage 
of the -battle may have been no one knows for certain, although Oslo 
claims that Pico feigned a retreat to lure the Americans on. However 
this may have been, after running some distance to more open ground, 
Pico suddenly wheeled his column, and rushed back to meet the Ameri 
cans. The conflict, though brief, was desperately fought. The Ameri 
can firearms were practically useless on account of the rain and the 
time needed to reload, so the conflict resolved itself into a hand-to-hand 
struggle of clubbed guns and sabers against the lances of the Califor 
nians. The Americans fought bravely against heavy odds, for their 
mules were unmanageable, and their sabers too short to cope effectively 
with the long California lances. 



This hand-to-hand combat raged for several minutes. When the first 
fury of the assault had somewhat abated the rest of Kearny s forces 
arrived with the two howitzers, and the Californians again fled. The 
Americans were in no condition to pursue and indeed found themselves 
in a very unhappy plight. Emory says, "Our provisions were 
exhausted, our horses dead, our mules on their last legs, and our men, 
now reduced to one-third of their number, were ragged, worn down by 
fatigue, and emaciated. Since the mules were unable to transport the 
dead and wounded it was decided to camp at the site over night in order 
to bury the dead. This was done as secretly as possible under the cover 
of darkness, amid the howlings of a myriad of coyotes, who had been 
attracted to the scene of battle. Emory s description of the camp that 
night doubtless not only describes the place but also reflects the spirit 
of the men, for He says, "Our position was defensible, but the ground, 
covered with rocks and cacti, made it difficult to get a smooth place to 
rest, even for the wounded. The night was cold and damp, and not 
withstanding our excessive fatigues of the day and night previous, 
sleep was impossible." 

The exact number of casualties on either side cannot be determined, 
since there are about as many different reports given as there are nar 
rators to give them. However, a fairly close estimate places the Ameri 
can dead at eighteen, with fifteen wounded. It is doubtful if there were 
any killed among the Californians, although several contemporaries 
speak of one Californian being killed. An estimate of all accounts 
places the Californians wounded at twelve, two of them seriously. 
Kearny himself was wounded, and Captain H. S. Turner assumed com 
mand, dispatching Lieutenant Godey and three others to San Diego 
for help. 

Early on the morning of the seventh Kearny again took command, 
and started his ragged detachment on its way to San Diego with the 
threatening Californians disputing their advance. When they arrived 
at the San Bernardo rancho it was found to be deserted except for a few 
Indians, but water was obtainable for the animals and several chickens 
were killed for the use of the sick. No grass was found for the stock 
so they pushed on toward the river bed, driving many cattle with them. 
At this juncture the Californian horseman again made an attack upon 
the rear of the advancing army. Emory describes it thus : 

"We had scarcely left the house and proceeded more than a mile, when a cloud of 
cavalry debouched from the hills in our rear, and a portion of them dashed at full 
speed to occupy a hill by which we must pass, while the remainder threatened our rear. 
Thirty or forty of them got possession of the hill, and it was necessary to drive them 
from it. This was accomplished by a small party of six or eight, upon whom the Cali 
fornians discharged their fire ; and strange to say, not one of our men fell. The capture 
of the hill was then but the work of a moment, and when we reached the crest, the 
Californians had mounted their horses and were in full flight. We did not lose a man 
in the skirmish, but they had several badly wounded. By this movement we lost our 
cattle, and were convinced that if we attempted any further progress with the 
ambulances we must lose our sick and our packs." 



SKETCH 

or THE 

ACTIONS 




Map 1. Contemporaneous map by Lieut. Col. W. H. Emory. 



10 

It was decided to stay there and await reenforcements from San Diego 
as the condition of the troops was such that to proceed further would be 
suicide. The numbers of the Californians were constantly increasing. 
Kearny had no way of knowing whether or not Godey had evaded the 
natives and reached San Diego. When it was learned that the Cali 
fornians had several American prisoners they were forced to consider 
the serious situation they were in. It was decided therefore to try to 
get another message through to San Diego. Lieutenant E. F. Beale of 
the Navy, Kit Carson, and an Indian volunteered to attempt the perilous 
journey. Senator Benton thus describes the preparation for their 
departure : 

"The brief preparations for the forlorn hope were soon made ; and brief they were. 
A rifle each, a blanket, a revolver, a sharp knife, and no food ; there was none in the 
camp. General Kearny invited Beale to come and sup with him. It was not the 
supper of Anthony and Cleopatra ; for when the camp starves, no general has a 
larder. It was meagre enough. The General asked Beale what provisions he had to 
travel on ; the answer was, nothing. The General called his servant to inquire what 
his tent afforded ; a handful of flour, was the answer. The General ordered it to be 
baked into a loaf and be given to Beale. When the loaf was brought, the servant said 
that was the last, not of bread only, but of everything ; that he had nothing left for 
the general s breakfast. Beale directed the servant to carry back the loaf, saying that 
he would provide for himself. He did provide for himself ; and how? By going to the 
smouldering fire where the baggage had been burnt in the morning, and scraping from 
the ashes and embers the half-burnt peas and grains of corn which the conflagration 
had spared, filling his pockets with the unwonted food. Carson and the faithful Indian 
provided for themselves some mule beef." 

Guided by the skill of Kit Carson, the three men eluded the besiegers 
and separately made their way to San Diego during the second night. 
There they found that Godey had successfully given the news of 
Kearny s plight and that Commodore Stockton had already started a 
relief expedition on the way to San Pasqual. 

The Smithsonian Institute at Washington, D. C., has erected a tablet 
to the memory of Beale and Carson in commemoration of the heroism 
displayed by them at this time. Since this tablet shows so well the 
attitude of this great national museum toward this battle, the inscrip 
tion is given in full : 

"BEALE AND CARSON HAILING STOCKTON S FLAGSHIP 

"AN INCIDENT OF THE MEXICAN WAR 

"Kearny, sent from Santa Fe to occupy California, was met and defeated by the 
Mexicans at San Pasqual. The American forces were driven upon a butte in the desert 
on which there was no w r ater-and there surrounded by the Mexican forces. Edward F. 
Beale and Kit Carson, the famous explorers of the West, volunteered to go through 
the Mexican lines and get reenforcements from Stockton s fleet at San Diego. They 
succeeded in crawling past the cordon of Mexican sentries in the night and by hiding 
in ravines in the day and traveling by night they reached Stockton s flagship, after 
enduring great hardship." 

In the meanwhile the besieged Americans, who had been subsisting 
several days on the flesh of emaciated mules and the little water they 



11 




Carson- Beale tablet in the Smithsonian Institute From Sabin, "Kit 
Carson Days." 



12 

could obtain by digging, planned to make another desperate attempt to 
proceed to San Diego. The surgeon reported upon December 10 that 
the wounded were able to make the journey and the order was given to 
make ready for a march early next morning. Emory then reports: 

"We were all reposing quietly, but not sleeping, waiting for the break of day, when 
we were to go down and give the enemy another defeat. One of the men, in the part of 
the camp assigned to my defence, reported that he heard a man speaking in English. 
Tn a few minutes we heard the tramp of a column, followed by the hail of the 
sentinel. It was a detachment of 100 tors and 80 marines under Lieutenant Gray, 
sent to meet us by Commodore Stockton, from whom we learned that Lieutenant 
Beale, Carson, and the Indian had arrived safely in San Diego. The detachment lefl 
San Diego on the night of the 9th, cached themselves during the day of the 10th, 
and joined us on the night of that day. These gallapt fellows busied themselves till 
day distributing their provisions and clothes to our naked and hungry people." 

This union of the two American forces entirely disconcerted the 
plans of the native Californians, and before sunrise they had with 
drawn toward the north, leaving Kearny and his enlarged army undis 
turbed in their further advance. They arrived at San Diego upon the 
morning of December 12. 

Thus ended the battle of San Pasqual, the most famous and the most 
sanguinary of California history. Although technically the Americans 
may claim a victory, since they remained in possession of the field, it 
is probable that another such "victory" would have been disastrous. 
There has been much comment made upon the battle at San Pasqual, 
and the general tone of critics is unfavorable to General Kearny. Ban 
croft, in particular, has characterized the attack of Kearny as a stupid 
blunder, Hittell also blames Kearny, but his tone is much less severe. 
He says in part : There can be no doubt that the attack on San 
Pasqual was a mistake on the part of Kearny, who did not sufficiently 
take into consideration the condition of his forces, nor sufficiently appre 
ciate the forces of the Californians. Sabin, a more recent writer, says 
that it is probable that in this case Kearny was ill-advi.sed by both 
Gillespie and Carson, upon whom he relied for guidance. He says: 

"Gillespie was burning for revenge to counterbalance his discomfiture at Los 
Angeles. He made light of the California valor. So did even Kit Carson, who, in 
common with other mountain men of the Southwest, thought little of Latin 
courage. After their easy conquest of New Mexico, when the march from Bent s 
Fort to Santa Fe, the capital, had been practically undisputed. General Kearny 
and his officers and men also were inclined to dismiss the Californians curtly. 

Influenced by the contempt of Gillespie and Carson, and not realizing that here 
the fight was with free Californians accustomed to more initative than the New 
Mexicans, General Kearny s council decided to push on for San Diego, and to attack 
the enemy if they were opposed. In this plan was sound military sense. Boldness 
would win a way, whereas hesitancy might result in the little force being shut off 
from the sea and all supplies, and. by a constantly increasing foe, confined helplessly 
inland while their chances grew less." 

Military critics may differ as to whether the policy pursued by Gen 
eral Kearny was in keeping with the best military tactics, Be that as 
it may, this battle w r ill take its place in California s history as one 
Avhich not only shows forth boldly the courage and fortitude of the men 



13 

who composed the American Army on the one hand, but also the dash 
and skill of the irregular California cavalry on the other hand. It 
constitutes an important incident in the American Conquest of Cali 
fornia. 

LOCATION OF THE BATTLE SITE. 

In order that the true site of the battle might be determined, all 
obtainable data such as contemporary reports and maps, and other 
early maps of the region, were carefully studied and compared with 
the recent topographical maps prepared by the United States Geological 
Survey. Of greatest value in this work was the sketch map of these 
engagements prepared by Lieutenant Colonel W. II. Emory, who accom 
panied this expedition in the capacity of topographical engineer. With 
the exceDtioii of the course of the San Bernardo (or San Dieguito) 
River, w r hich is indicated by Emory as running east of the American 
camp of December 7-11, the map mentioned is exceedingly accurate and 
gives sufficient number of recognized topographical features to permit 
an accurate location of the places mentioned in the report. 

In this map the American advance is shown to have approached the 
scene of the engagements from a ridge crossing the river (then dry) 
at the Indian village of San Pasqual, where Pico s band was drawn up 
to meet them. This village is located near a small detached hill or knoll 
standing near the head of the valley apart from those forming the walls 
of the valley. The line of retreat is then shown down the valley on the 
same (north) side of the river to a place where the hills to the north 
seem to recede, forming a wider, more open plain. On this* open plain 
the second and most desperate of the engagements was fought and here 
the Americans camped December 6. 

After retreating between two small hills on the north side of the 
valley, Pico s forces are shown to have taken up their third position 
across the valley at a point where the highlands converge. Should the 
Americans proceed down the valley this would be an advantageous 
point to resist them. It did in fact force Kearny to take to the low 
hills to the north of the valley, while Pico held the valley probably some 
what in advance of the Americans. After proceeding some distance 
along the north edge of the valley the Americans turned sharply to 
their left and were attacked by the Calif ornians as they ascended a 
hill on the other side. The former were then forced to take up a posi 
tion upon this hill, and there they awaited reinforcements. 

Guided by the map of Colonel Emory and the recent United States 
Geological Survey sheets, the Director of the Commission marked the 
approximate location of the various battle sites upon the topographical 
sheet. Two points seemed to permit of definite location. The Indian 
village of San Pasqual, at which the first engagement was fought, is 
undoubtedly the same as the village by the name upon the topographical 



14 

map, and also it seemed safe to assume that the third engagement, 
which was fought on the south side of the valley, took place upon the 
peak now known as Battle Mountain. On account of the absence of 
any scale of miles accompanying Emory s map, the distances shown 
thereon can not be accurately determined and are therefore only rela 
tive distances. The position of the second engagement was fixed in 
relation to the two points just mentioned as well as by other correspond 
ing features in both the contemporaneous and recent maps. 

Having made these preliminary observations and indicated them 
upon the topographical maps, the Director of the Commission, in com 
pany with Assemblyman Fred Lindley and others, visited San Pasqual 
Valley on February 22, 1920, to determine the accuracy of these con 
clusions and to decide if possible whether the land accepted by the State 
by virtue of Statutes 1919, chapter 272, as the battle site, is the actual 
battle ground, or if there were sufficiently definite information avail 
able to determine such site. 

San Pasqual Valley is a small valley about nine miles long, and varies 
in width, from one-half a mile to two miles. At the upper or eastern 
end of the valley the river, which is dry except during the rainy season 
of the year, emerges from a relatively narrow canon. The general 
topography is strikingly like that shown on Emory s map. A small 
round knoll stands at the head of the valley upon the north side of the 
river. There is now a farm house here, but it is said once to have been 
the site of an Indian village. The hill mentioned is now usexLas a 
cemetery. While inspecting this site numerous Indian arrow heads and 
bits of pottery were discovered in the surface dirt, indicating that it had 
been the location of an Indian village. The tradition of the old-time 
residents of the valley makes this the site of the first engagement, and 
there can be but little doubt that the historical records confirm this 
tradition. 

From this place we passed down the valley in an endeavor to locate 
the site of the second engagement, closely following the route indicated 
as that of the two opposing forces. Here again the map of Colonel 
Emory was found to be of great value, for his delineation of the 
topography, particularly the highlands forming the north wall of the 
valley, is very suggestive and there can be no doubt of their identity at 
the present time. Local tradition places the scene of tin second battle 
about two miles from the first, at a place where the valley widens due 
to an opening in the hills from the north. It is here that the land 
deeded to the State is located. In view of the close resemblance between 
Emory s map of the battle, the topographical sheets issued by the 
United States, and the actual physical features, the Director of the 
Commission was not surprised to find that this traditional battle site 
was exactly upon the point as previously marked by him as the result of 



15 




16 

his preliminary study of the historical evidence. He is therefore fully 
satisfied that the land deeded to the State is the site of the battle of 
December 6, 1846. This is especially true when it is remembered that 
this was a cavalry battle, and probably covered many acres of ground. 
There can therefore be but little doubt that the battle was fought over 
the ground selected, and it is furthermore very probable that it may 
have been the site of the camp upon the night of December 6. 

From this point we proceeded farther down the valley. The present 
road passes between two small elevations to the north of the main valley, 
very suggestive of those shown on Emory s map. Near there the 
strategic value of Pico s third position across the valley at a narrow 
point is very evident, while on the other hand the low hills north of the 
valley have a gentle slope, thus making it possible for Kearny s army 
to ascend them and thus by watching the enemy in the valley to guard 
against attaek. Traveling here was but slightly more difficult than 
upon the valley floor, until they approached the more mountainous 
region through which the river approaches the sea. It is probable that 
here the guides warned Kearny that they must turn to the south in 
order to avoid the mountains if they desired to proceed to San Diego. 
Pico s band seems to have been ahead of them, probably on the route to 
San Luis Rey, his headquarters. At any rate the American army s 
descent into the valley was not opposed, but as they crossed over to the 
southern side and were ascending the slope they were attacked from the 
rear by Pico s men. They were then forced to take up this position 
upon the small peak now known as Battle Mountain. 

The one serious defect in Emory s map is met in locating the latter 
part of the route just described, as he indicates the San Bernardo 
River as running to the east of the site of this third battle, when in 
reality it runs to the north of the peak, and was crossed by the Ameri 
cans just before the third attack of Pico s men. Serious as this may 
appear, it may be easily explained without calling into question the 
accuracy of his other observations. It must be remembered that 
although the date was in December, he describes the river as being dry. 
AVlien the writer was there late in February, after a three days rain, 
the river was just beginning to show signs of life and was even then 
not more than a good-sized creek. It is therefore very probable that, the 
Americans crossed the dry river bed without recognizing it. Further 
more the topography here is somewhat deceiving to one who has not had 
opportunity to examine it carefully. The valley comes to an end in a 
canon which suddenly grows narrow and because of a sudden turn in 
the river might give the impression, if no running water was to be seen, 
that it was only a side canon rather than the outlet to the valley. On 
the other hand, the gentle slope of the valley wall on the south with a 
wide lateral valley might easily lead to the belief, as evidently enter- 



17 

tained by Emory, that the river passed through between these hills on 
the south side of the valley. When also it is remembered that the 
Americans were greatly handicapped while making their way across the 
valley floor, since the mounted Californians, not far away, were prob 
ably already preparing for an attack, there can be little wonder that 
Emory did not succeed in determining the exact course of the river 
channel. Later from the summit of Battle Mountain these points could 
not be determined. 

Based upon the exceedingly valuable map of Emory and the informa 
tion contained in the numerous other contemporary accounts there can 
be but little doubt but that the sites of the three engagements can be 
located with all the accuracy required in cavalry battles such as these 
were, and that the land accepted by the State of California as a gift 
from William G. Henshaw and Colonel Ed Fletcher under the provisions 
of the Statutes of 1919, chapter 272, is the true site of the battle of 
December 6, 1846. 

SUGGESTED MEMORIAL. 

Many methods have been suggested as suitable means of marking this 
battle site. Probably the best is that prepared by Colonel Ed Fletcher, 
one of the donors of the site, who recommends the construction of a 
community house built of adobe and tile, with a suitable boulder marked 
and placed in a good location in front of the building, with a tablet 
calling attention to the event commemorated. An inscription either 
upon the boulder or on the walls of the house itself should give the 
names of those killed and wounded. Action of this character on the 
part of the State would not only mark the spot but also encourage the 
local people to care for the surrounding landmarks. Assurance has 
been given that should the State see fit to make a small appropriation 
toward a suitable memorial, the remainder would be raised within the 
county. 

Respectfully submitted, 

HISTORICAL SURVEY COMMISSION. 
OWEN C. COY, Director. 



18 



BIBLIOGRAPHY. 

PRINTED MATERIALS. 

Bancroft, H. H., History of California. New York, 1912. 
Bonsai, Stephen, Edward Fitzgerald Beale. San Francisco, 1886. 
Cooke, P. St. George, Conquest of New Mexico and California. New 

York, 1878. 
Cutts, James M., Conquest of California and New Mexico, Philadelphia, 

1847. 

Dellenbaugh, Frederick S., Fremont and 19. New York, 1914. 
Emory, William H., Notes of a Military Reconnaissance. Washington, 

1848. 

Hittell, Theodore H., History of California. San Francisco, 1898. 
Hughes, John T., Doniphan s Expedition. Cincinnati, 1847. 
Sabin, Edwin L., Kit Carson Days. Chicago, 1914. 

MANUSCRIPT MATERIALS. 
Botello, Narciso, Anales. 
Cornick, Homer II., The Battle of San Pasqual. 

This excellent summary of the events of the battle, made under the supervi 
sion of the Commission, was used very largely as the basis of the historical 
narrative. 

Coronel, Antonio F., Cosas de California. 

Forster, John, Pioneer Data. 

Moreno, Juan B., Vida Militar. 

Osio, Antonio M., Historia de California. 

Palomares, Jose F., Memoria. 

Vejar, Pablo, Recuerdos, de Un Viejo. 



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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY